Our attorneys understand the devastation felt by victims and the families of those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. For more than 45 years, we have been dedicated to helping those diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related medical conditions.
If you or a loved one is a victim of asbestos, our Hampton Roads mesothelioma lawyers are here to discuss your next steps, including pursuing compensation for medical treatment and other damages.
Robert Hatten has been representing workers with asbestos diseases since 1975 and prosecuted Virginia’s first mesothelioma jury trial.
Our firm has become nationally renowned for our success representing asbestos victims – we have obtained millions on behalf of our clients, many of whom were involved in shipbuilding in Norfolk and the surrounding area.
Firm partner Robert Hatten has obtained numerous verdicts for asbestos victims, including verdicts of $25 million and $10 million. He is listed in Super Lawyers, which includes just five percent of attorneys in each state.
The initial consultation with one of our attorneys is free of charge, comes with no obligation to take legal action and no face-to-face meeting is required.
How Can Our Firm Help You?
Personal injury victims who hire experienced attorneys often recover more compensation compared to those who do not. It is not only important to hire an attorney to help you pursue compensation, you need one with experience and one who has a history of results with cases like yours.
The law firm of Patten, Wornom, Hatten & Diamonstein (PWHD) has a proven track record of success representing asbestos victims. We have obtained numerous multi-million-dollar verdicts for our clients and have worked on landmark cases.
Partner Robert Hatten was able to:
- Prosecuting and winning the first mesothelioma jury trial in Virginia
- Creating the first national settlement program with the asbestos industry
- Obtaining the first punitive damages award against the asbestos industry
- Obtaining verdicts of $7.5 million, $5.977 million, $3.8 million, $4.39 million and $9.3 million*
*Disclaimer: Verdicts are specific to the facts of that case and create no inference of the value of other cases. Further, verdicts are frequently appealed which can result in reversal or reduction of the verdict or settlement for less than the verdict.
Eight of the attorneys at PWHD were named to the 2020 Super Lawyers List. Partners Donald Patten and Robert Hatten have been selected for this list 15 times.
“Every step of the way, someone from PWHD was with us. There was genuine caring.”
– Andriea, PWHD client
Our attorneys are prepared to explore the details of your claim and explain how we may be able to help you in a free initial consultation. If we validate your claim, and you hire our firm, there are no upfront fees and no fees while we investigate and work on your case.
We are prepared to manage each step of the legal process on your behalf. We have extensive knowledge of the law and what it takes to build a strong case for asbestos victims.
Am I Eligible to Pursue Compensation?
We need to review your situation in detail to determine if you may have grounds for legal action. For example, when we meet with potential clients, we often ask them what they remember about their work history, including their employers, the jobs they performed and when they believe they may have been exposed to asbestos.
We have worked with many asbestos victims and have extensive knowledge of high-risk jobs and even companies that exposed workers to asbestos. We also know about the many products that contain asbestos and how and when they were used, such as for fire protection around engines. Shipbuilders often spent long hours in confined spaces with poor ventilation and air contaminated with asbestos fibers.
Asbestos exposure very likely occurred at some of the shipyards in Virginia, such as Norfolk Naval Shipyard and Newport News Shipyard.
After reviewing your claim in detail, our firm will be able to give you a summary of the legal options that may be available for your specific incident. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can help to determine if you may have a case and get work holding the negligent parties accountable for their actions.
Who Can File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
While the victims themselves often file claims, family members can do so as well. If your family member is too sick to meet with us, you can contact our firm to learn more about potential legal options.
If the victim initiates the legal process but later becomes too ill to continue proceedings, or he or she passes away, the family of this person should be able to continue seeking compensation.
Should you have questions and are ready to have a conversion with a licensed attorney, we encourage you to contact PWHD and schedule a free consultation.
You May Not Need to File a Lawsuit to Obtain Compensation
Many personal injury claims are resolved through an out-of-court settlement. Mesothelioma claims are often resolved through settlements with asbestos bankruptcy trusts, which were established by companies that filed bankruptcy after being overwhelmed with asbestos lawsuits.
Generally, victims file a claim with the trust and those in charge of the trust review it to determine if they want to offer compensation. When a compensation offer is made, the victim and his or her attorney can negotiate from there.
The Hampton Roads mesothelioma lawyers at our firm have extensive knowledge of state laws that may affect your claim and the process of pursuing compensation from a trust.
Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts That Have Been Established
Many companies have created bankruptcy trusts to manage asbestos claims, and some are or were operating here in Virginia or their products may have been used here, including:
- Babcock & Wilcox Company
- Burns & Roe Enterprises, Inc.
- E. Thurston & Sons, Inc.
- Johns Manville
- Kaiser Aluminum
- Porter Hayden Company
If a company that you or your loved one used to work for has set up a trust, or you are unsure if a trust may exist, you can contact our firm to discuss the situation. The initial consultation is completely free.
Compensation We May Be Able to Recover
Our Hampton Roads mesothelioma lawyers are committed to pursuing maximum compensation for you or your loved one’s damages. Treatment for mesothelioma can quickly become costly, but you may be able to recover compensation for various expenses, such as:
- Durable medical equipment (crutches, wheelchair, etc.)
- Hospital stays
- Pain management
- Home health care
There are a variety of other damages we may able to pursue, including lost wages and lost earning capacity when the disease causes you to miss work or limits your capacity to work. The psychological and emotional effects of your injury may also be compensable in your claim, such as depression, stress or anxiety.
Our Hampton Roads mesothelioma attorneys may be able to pursue wrongful death damages if you or your loved one dies during the legal process:
- Loss of companionship
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of care and guidance
- Mental anguish
- Lost retirement benefits
- Lost insurance benefits
Our experienced attorneys have represented numerous asbestos victims and know how to evaluate their damages to determine the full value of their claim.
We know how important compensation can be for victims and their loved ones during this difficult time.
Who Could Be Held Liable for Your Diagnosis?
Product manufacturers may be held liable for workers contracting mesothelioma because these companies had a duty to warn workers and failed to do so. Your attorney would need to prove the product manufacturers knew or should have known of the dangers of asbestos.
How Asbestos Exposure Often Occurs
Asbestos is a mineral made up of soft fibers that was used in a wide variety of products for decades because of its resistance to heat, corrosion and electricity.
When asbestos is disturbed, the fibers can break apart and become airborne. People can easily breathe these fibers into their lungs, where they stay and may eventually turn into tumors.
All it takes is a small amount of asbestos fibers in the lungs to potentially cause life-threatening health problems.
The Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and International Agency for Research on Cancer classify asbestos as a known human carcinogen, or cancer-causing chemical.
Workers who regularly handled asbestos-containing materials could have easily breathed asbestos fibers in their lungs. However, anyone who worked near others who did may have been at risk. Fibers may have settled onto a worker’s clothes or in his or her hair. When the worker went home, these fibers could have become airborne when the worker took his or her work clothes/uniform off. Hugging a worker who was regularly exposed may have put people at risk.
Jobs with a High Risk for Exposure
There are some jobs that put workers at much higher risk of asbestos exposure, such as shipbuilding or working in the U.S. Navy.
There are a wide variety of workers involved in shipbuilding, including:
- Sheet metal workers
- Engine fitters
- Pipe coverers
Unfortunately, many of these workers either worked with or around asbestos-containing materials, such as:
- Pipe coverings
When ships, such as battleships, aircraft carriers, submarines, cruisers and auxiliary vessels were being built, asbestos-containing products often needed to be sanded down to fit snugly, releasing fibers into the air.
There are many other industries with an increased risk of asbestos exposure, such as:
- Power plants
- Car repair
- Petroleum refining
- Drywall installer
- Brick mason
- HVAC repair
- Iron/steel worker
- Chemical technician
Dangerous Work Sites in Virginia
There are many work sites in Virginia where people were at high risk for asbestos exposure, including:
- Norfolk Naval Shipyard
- Newport News Shipyard
- Norfolk Railroad
- Portsmouth Berkley and Suffolk Water Company
- Naval Ammunition Depot
- National Shipyards
- Colonna’s Shipyard
- Crown Cork & Seal
- Lyon Shipyard
- Exxon Mobil
- John Crane, Inc.
- Surry Nuclear Power Plant
- Garlock Sealing Technologies
If you worked at any of these companies and believe you may have been exposed to asbestos, give our firm a call to schedule a free consultation. We have extensive knowledge of the widespread use of asbestos and how to prove companies knew or should have known about the dangers.
Products That Contained Asbestos
The fire-resistant properties and durability of asbestos led to it being used in countless products for many years before it was phased out in the 1970s. These products could be found in workplaces and homes for decades, potentially exposing countless individuals to asbestos and putting their lives at risk.
Here are some examples of asbestos-containing products:
- Engines in boats and cars
- Covers for ironing boards
- Brake pads
- Tar for roofs
- Vinyl wallpaper
- Glassblower mitts
- Fire blankets
- Electrical shielding
- Molded cement bases
- Duct tape
- Furnace cement
If you worked in a potentially dangerous job and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or another asbestos-related medical condition, call today to schedule your free consultation.
What is Mesothelioma?
This is a type of cancer than forms in the thin layer of tissue (mesothelium) around your internal organs. Most mesothelioma cases are caused by exposure to asbestos.
Can Mesothelioma Be Cured?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for mesothelioma. Most people are not diagnosed until the disease has progressed to its later stages, and the survival rate at that point is approximately 12 months. The five-year survival rate is approximately five to 10 percent.
In certain instances, when surgery is still an option, patients are likely to live longer in comparison to those who cannot be operated on.
Types of Mesothelioma
The two main types of mesothelioma are pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma:
This is by far the most common form of the disease. Tumors form in the pleura, which is the lining of the lungs.
Often, the prognosis depends on the type of cancer cells the patient has. For example, those with epithelioid cells often survive up to 19 months.
This is the second most common form of mesothelioma (15-20 percent of all diagnoses). Peritoneal mesothelioma begins in the abdomen and may move into the spleen or liver. The average life expectancy after diagnosis is six to 12 months.
How is Mesothelioma Different from Lung Cancer?
As mesothelioma often starts in the lungs, some may think it is the same as lung cancer. However, this is incorrect.
One of the most significant differences between mesothelioma and lung cancer is lung cancer affects the lung itself. Mesothelioma occurs in the mesothelium, which is the lining around the lungs.
Another major difference between lung cancer and mesothelioma is lung cancer is sometimes easier to treat. It is often easier for doctors to spot lung cancer tumors because they are separate from healthy cells. With mesothelioma, there is often little separation between health and unhealthy tissues.
Symptoms to Watch for
Symptoms often do not present themselves until the later stages, and they mimic symptoms of other conditions, which can make it harder for doctors to diagnose.
Common symptoms of mesothelioma include:
- Lower back pain
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Blood clotting
- Night sweats
- Unexpected weight loss
- Trouble swallowing food
- Swelling in the face
- Abdominal pain
How is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?
If doctors suspect a patient has mesothelioma, they may do a physical exam to look for lumps. They may also do imaging tests, such as a chest X-ray or CT scan of the chest.
This may lead to further testing, such as a biopsy, where a portion of tissue is taken for laboratory examination. A biopsy may be done by inserting a needle into the chest or abdomen to remove fluid or tissue.
What to Do After Being Diagnosed
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may want to get a second opinion, particularly if the doctor who diagnosed you is not someone who regularly diagnoses this condition.
If the diagnosis is confirmed, you and your family may want to learn more about the disease, particularly how it progresses, treatment options and the cost of those treatment options. The next step is often developing a treatment plan with your doctors, which may include a respiratory therapist and dietician. While treatment may not be successful in slowing the disease, it could help alleviate symptoms and improve your quality of life.
It can also be beneficial to develop a support system to help you with treatment and managing your daily life. For example, it can be important to determine who can take you back and forth to doctor’s appointments and stay with you when you are recovering from treatment.
Another important step is meeting with a qualified attorney to discuss potential legal options. The Hampton Roads mesothelioma lawyers at our firm have a proven track record of helping asbestos victims.
Stages of the Disease
Pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma generally have four stages.
Tumors have not spread beyond the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) or abdomen (peritoneal). If the disease is diagnosed, the patient may have a much longer life expectancy compared to someone who is diagnosed later.
Tumors have begun to spread outside the place they started forming and possibly into lymph nodes. However, doctors may still be able to do surgery to remove tumors. Symptoms may include trouble breathing, mild cough, bloating or suffer weight loss.
The cancer has likely spread to multiple organs in same region of the body where it started. Surgery may not be possible, and treatment is often much less effective. Patients may suffer labored breathing, chest pain, diarrhea or abdominal pain.
The cancer has spread throughout the area where it first developed and possibly into other areas of the body, such as the liver, brain or bones. Patients have a very difficult time breathing, trouble swallowing and severe pain in the chest.
There are multiple treatment options for mesothelioma. These treatments may be focused on removing or shrinking tumors or simply helping people manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
As with other cancers, one of the first considerations doctors may have is whether it may be possible to do surgery and simply remove the entire tumor. In the early stages, this may be possible. Surgery may still be possible in the later stages of the disease, but it is unlikely to have long-lasting benefits beyond controlling symptoms.
This may be used before or after surgery to slow the growth of the cancer or help relieve some of your symptoms. Radiation and targeted drug therapy are sometimes used together with chemotherapy.
This often involves prescribing pain medication, radiation therapy and minor surgeries to help relieve pain.
Diagnosed with Mesothelioma? We Can Help. Schedule a Free Consultation.
For more than 45 years, our firm has recovered billions on behalf of those suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. We are here to manage the legal process so you and your family can focus on your treatment and being together during this difficult time.
There are no upfront fees to meet with one of our Hampton Roads mesothelioma lawyers. If we take your case, there are no fees while we work on your case.
Our office is located at 12350 Jefferson Avenue in Newport News, just a short drive from Riverside Cancer Care Center and Peninsula Cancer Institute.